Former Hornets guard Caleb Martin was the Miami Heat’s unsung hero during their improbable NBA Eastern Conference Finals victory over the heavily favored Boston Celtics.
In fact, Martin, after averaging 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds during the series, narrowly missed MVP honors to Jimmy Butler by a single vote. To no one’s surprise, the star player with a household name will always be the first to be recognized.
But not too long, two years ago to be exact, an undrafted Caleb Martin was a member of a young, inexperienced Charlotte Hornets team that struggled mightily during his two-year tenure in the Queen City. Those squads would not have been juggernauts across North Carolina sports betting.
As part of a rebuilding process that consisted of a complete overhaul with an emphasis on developing younger players, Martin was released and forced out the door two months prior to the 2021 NBA season.
A month later, the Miami Heat rescued his career and today, Martin has flourished into one of the league’s most reliable, standout role players as proven by his contributions to the Heat’s remarkable journey to the NBA Finals. Martin joined a first-class organization, led by the tutelage of future Hall-of-Famer Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley, who are known for their ability to nurture and cultivate lesser-known players, maximizing their potential when it matters most during the season.
But Martin is not the only ex-Hornet to improve following his departure since the 2019-2020 season. Since that campaign, nine different players have exited Charlotte and embarked on new situations. Based on a Player Efficiency Rating model, five have bettered their performances, three have fallen short of expectations, while just one has maintained the same level of play.
For this study, BetCarolina.com utilized Basketball-Reference.com to find the PER of each NBA player who left the Charlotte Hornets since their 2019-20 season. We then figured out the difference between their PER while with the Hornets and their PER after leaving the team.
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Martin, Malik Monk Most Improved With New Teams
Caleb Martin, Malik Monk, and Devonte’ Graham were part of the younger(ish) core to fall victim to the franchise’s latest rebuild process following the 2020 and 2021 NBA seasons, respectively.
However, Martin and Monk were the beneficiaries of those decisions made by the Hornets front office. Besides a larger payday awaiting, both have blossomed into consistent, valuable role players that have delivered crucial performances throughout this season, but particularly shining in the playoffs.
Monk is now part of a vital, promising squad with the Sacramento Kings that recently pushed the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, to a game seven in the first round. The Kings earned the number three seed in the postseason, their first appearance in 16 years. Despite the distance from Charlotte, the Kings could garner their share of future bets on NC sports betting apps next year ahead of their latest playoff run.
For Graham, his worst years were to follow. His Pelicans career was plagued with injuries and he simply was not the offensive spark coming off the bench that many expected, producing career-low numbers in basically every stat one can think of.
Among this list, Montrezl Harrell had the largest decline in PER. Harrell has bounced around the league since his Sixth Man of the Year award in 2020 with the Los Angeles Clippers. Since then, he has joined four different teams and was ineffective during his stint with the Hornets in the 2021-2022 season. Flash forward, he is an afterthought in today’s NBA.
Coincidentally, Cody Zeller is also part of the Heat squad en route to the NBA Finals, along with Martin, whose PER slightly improved. Thursday’s NBA Finals will hold an emotional connection to the Queen City, as they birthed the professional careers of both Martin and Zeller.